Sunday, February 6, 2011

British soldier killed in S Afghanistan

A British soldier has lost his life in the volatile Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, bringing the total UK death toll in the war-torn country to 351 since the beginning of the war.

The British Ministry of Defense announced Friday that the soldier from 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, died in an operational accident in the Nad-e Ali district of the Helmand province, a Press TV correspondent reported.

"He died as a result of an operational accident, which is currently under investigation," Task Force Helmand spokesman Lieutenant Colonel David Eastman stated.

The latest casualty puts the overall number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan so far this year to three.

The death also brings the total number of death toll among US troops in Afghanistan since the onset of the war in 2001 to 351, 309 of whom were killed as a result of military engagement and the rising violence against foreign troops in the war-ravaged country.

2010 was the bloodiest year of the nine-year conflict in Afghanistan, with casualties steadily soaring among both civilians and foreign troops, mainly due to a rise in Taliban attacks.

As many as 711 foreign troops lost their lives in Afghanistan -- an average of two a day -- which is by far greater than the annual toll of 521 during 2009.

Despite the presence of some 150,000 NATO forces in the Asian country, the violence and daily militant attacks have not been subdued in Afghanistan.

Britain has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second-largest contributor after the United States to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

ISAF has some 140,000 troops in Afghanistan, two-thirds of which are from the United States, fighting a nine-year war with the Taliban.

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